Archive for the ‘Chapter 18: Industry, Society, and Environment’ Category

Was China first?

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Many believe that the Industrial Revolution began in England when in fact China had a similar experience at the turn of the first century. This revolution involved an increase of taxes paid in a monetary way from 4% to 50% in a span of a little over a hundred and fifty years. This is a huge change for a country as populous as China. China was the first country to use paper currency and this tradition began during the time period. This period also saw a heavy shift of the population from  the farms to the cities such as Kaifeng, Liaoyang, and Hangzhou.

Earliest Form of Chinese Currency

Charles Dickens: “Literary Chronicler of the Industrial Revolution”

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Charles Dickens: "Literary Chronicler of Industrial Revolution" (1812-1870)

                Charles Dickens began working to help his support his family at the age of twelve. It would be a foundation for the rest of his life. His family was poor, but so were many Victorian families in what was one of the greatest industry booms for Britain. Dickens gave them a voice when he used his own life as an inspiration for many of his stories. He wrote most of his material for magazines and the long novels came out in weekly installments for his devoted followers. His childhood as a laborer inspired such notable works as: The Adventures of Oliver Twist and David Copperfield (said to be the most autobiographical). His time as a clerk inspired one of his most famously told and retold stories: A Christmas Carol. Through his writing, Dickens showed the higher classes what it was really like for the demoralized working class.

Famous Works:

  • The Adventures of Oliver Twist
  • The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby
  • A Christmas Carol
  • David Copperfield
  • Bleak House
  • Little Dorrit
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • Great Expectations


The Crystal Palace

Friday, December 3rd, 2010
The Crystal Palace - Grounds View

The Crystal Palace - Grounds View

              The Crystal Palace Exhibit in 1851 Londond was a grand affair. We saw a picture of the interior in class, but its hard to get the true scope of this magnificent structure without a look from the outside. The above was taken to demonstrate the scale of the exhibit and to show off the water constructs. The large tower to the left is one of a pair of resevoirs that were needed to support the thousands of gallons of water for around 12,000 jets in all the fountains.

             The palace was later moved from Hyde Park and became a popular meeting place and attraction after the exhibit ended. Ironically, given the massive waterworks, the palace was mostly destroyed in 1936 by a mysterious fire.


Spinning Jenny

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

The Spinning Jenny, invented by James Hargreaves in London in the year 1764. It is a multi-spool spinning frame which was a primary part of the Industrial Revolution. At first one worker was able to handle 8 spools of thread with this new invention and as technology grew one worker was capable of working with 120 spools at one time. This increase in the production of cotton rocketed England to be the world leading exporter of cotton with the only competitor being the southern plantations in the US.

General Ned Ludd

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

                More commonly known as “King Ludd”, or “Captain Ludd,” this fictional leader of the Luddites supposedly has origins in a real man from around the late 1700’s. One story claims that a dull-witted man in Anstey, Leicestershire was the inspiration. The tourism site for Leicester even mentions the tale on their welcome page. The story goes that the simple man smashed a pair of knitting frames, either as retribution for a whipping or after being taunted by locals. Since it was such a stupid act, whenever a machine was smashed people would jokingly say that Ned Ludd did it. When the Luddites began to smash machines in protest they adopted this figure as their mythical leader.


Friday, October 1st, 2010

After the agricultural revolution, the population density did a massive overhaul. In the relatively short period that was the Industrial Revolution in England, their map completely changed. The two maps I found are great visuals for the change. Not only do they compare the locations of the masses that moved into the cities, but they also pinpoint areas known for coal, textiles, shipyards, salt and valuable metals. Clearly, the masses congregated around these places of booming industry.

The Steam Engine

Friday, October 1st, 2010

The steam engine, easily considered the most important invention of the Industrial Revolution was patented by James Watt but originally invented by Thomas Newcomen.


Women’s Health

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Women during the 18th and 19th century were very afraid of sex because contraception was very expensive at the time and often times rare. Part of the fear also came from the thought of becoming pregnant which was the most common cause of death among women. The reason behind this was that upon the birth of the new born baby, often times the doctor’s hands were not clean, or the instruments used for unsterilized. By 1860, doctors were able to diagnose pregnancies due to new scientific techniques. The idea that pregnant women should wear corsets soon began to disappear, soon expandable lacing was created and was immediately popular. The average number of children in a family was 7. Compare that today which is around 4 for the global community and in the US is approximately 2.3. Chloroform was developed and implemented during this period was a sort of anesthetic but many religious political leaders believed that this practice was sacrilegious. The reason for this was that they believed that birth was a curse on women and that the suffering was necessary to produce a loving bond between the child and its mother.

Chapter 18: Industrial Revolution

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

First Thoughts

The industrial revolution saw a multitude of inventions and a change in the social mindset that would alter a West just moving on after the years of Napoleon. There are countless things we can say about this time period, but the first one that comes to my mind is the issue of child labor in that period. It was a controversial issue at the time and the textbook even references the child workforce as reaching “endemic” proportions. It had its proponents, but also went under an arduous process of reform. And whenever I think of children working in factories during the Industrial Revolution, I can’t help but look to Oliver Twist and the subsequent plays and films it inspired. Written by Charles Dickens, the renowned British author, the book was a social commentary when it was published in a magazine series between 1837 and 1839. It touched upon the relevant topics of the time, such as: “parental neglect”, poor factory conditions, child labor, criminal street urchins, and the new concepts of identity in a world of changing class structures, among other things.

While presenting an appropriately somber mood for the tale, I still prefer the musical film version, Oliver!.

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Online Source: When is a Book Not a Book? Oliver Twist in Context by Robert L. Patten